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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hulkenberg to debut new Williams
  • McLaren keeps same sponsors for 2009
  • Montezemolo joins Ecclestone in Italy
  • Fry denies conflict of interest
  • Raikkonen rests up with throat complaint
  • Time running out for Honda-Merc deal

    Hulkenberg to debut new Williams
    (GMM)  Nico Hulkenberg, Williams' test driver, has been assigned to give the British team's new car its track debut on Monday.

    In the 21-year-old German's hands, the Toyota-powered FW31 is scheduled to roll out of the Portimao circuit pitlane, with a media photocall to occur in the early morning.

    The event is not a normal 'launch', given that the only driver in attendance will be Hulkenberg, and the car will be wearing an interim test livery.

    Technical director Sam Michael will also be in attendance, Williams said.

    McLaren keeps same sponsors for 2009
    (GMM)  McLaren has the strength to ride out the global financial crisis, team boss Ron Dennis insists.

    The 61-year-old Briton, who in March will hand over as team principal to Martin Whitmarsh, said "the same brands" feature on this year's single seater in the wake of Lewis Hamilton's 2008 title at the wheel of its predecessor.

    He added: "We are close to signing Hugo Boss as a sponsor again -- we have had a close relationship with them for 32 years which must be a record for any sport, let alone formula one.

    "This is when you need that longevity and understanding to power you through the difficult times," Dennis said.

    He also explained that, despite the decimated car sales industry, McLaren intends to push on with its new production car program, set to be launched in 2010.

    Montezemolo joins Ecclestone in Italy
    (GMM)  In the wake of Bernie Ecclestone's surprise arrival at Madonna di Campiglio, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo also made an unscheduled visit to the team's 'Wrooom' media event in the Italian Dolomites.

    Amid speculation their coming-together was to smooth the waters following a spate of recent public spats, the pair posed for a photograph and dined together for lunch.

    But their positions are still diametrically opposed; the F1 chief executive has already indicated he is not budging over the issue of the sport's commercial revenue, and Montezemolo on Friday continued to question the British billionaire's dictator-like rule.

    "It is strange there is a sport that everyone says is in the hands of a single person," he said.

    Fry denies conflict of interest
    (GMM)  Nick Fry has denied reports that his dual-role in vetting bids for the Honda F1 team and also contemplating a management buyout is a conflict of interest.

    A British newspaper had said the UK government was asked to step in, amid team staff's concerns that the Briton may not be acting in the best interests of the Brackley based outfit's future.

    But Fry insists he has not been left alone by Honda to handle the negotiations with other potential buyers "and we have taken legal advice at all times to ensure no conflict of interest".

    "It is evident that attempts are being made by certain parties to frustrate this process," he charged.

    Fry said the process of attempting to secure the team's future, so that two cars line up on the Melbourne grid, continues.

    Raikkonen rests up with throat complaint
    (GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen left Ferrari's media 'Wrooom' event at an Italian ski resort early due to a throat inflammation.

    The team's Finnish race driver was also suffering from a fever at noon on Friday, but it is believed he will be fit to test as scheduled the new F60 single seater at Portugal's Portimao circuit next week.

    However, it also emerged from the scene of the Ferrari event that the test will almost certainly be moved from the Algarve region, where several F1 teams intend to run new cars, back to Mugello in Italy.

    It is said that rain is very likely to affect the opening days of the Portimao action, although weather forecasts also say the weather at Mugello could be bad.

    Ferrari's Spanish test driver Marc Gene also left the 'Wrooom' event early to conduct an aerodynamic test with the F60 at Vairano, but the session was called off due to bad weather.

    Raikkonen, 28, is believed to have returned to his home in Switzerland to recover from his throat ailment over the weekend.

    He will test the new car over two days next week, with Felipe Massa set for a similar schedule.

    Time running out for Honda-Merc deal
    (GMM)  "Time is running out" for the team currently known as Honda to finalize a supply of engines for the 2009 season, but Mercedes-Benz is still willing to help the beleaguered outfit.

    That was the message of Norbert Haug on Friday, following reports that Brackley based chiefs have asked the German manufacturer if it is willing to reach a deal if a team buyer is found ahead of the 2009 season.

    "The timing is anything other than fantastic obviously but we still could do it," the McLaren partner's competition chief told reporters at the launch of the MP4-24 at Woking.

    "There is not a deadline like tomorrow or next week but of course time is running out," Haug added.

    The German said McLaren executive Martin Whitmarsh was the one actually approached by Honda, insisting he is not personally aware of how the team's talks with potential buyers are progressing.

    Haug also insisted that any arrangement with Honda would have to make sense for Mercedes, despite his desire to assist for the sake of the sport.

    "This is not a sponsorship deal, it is financial deal and we need to get the finances right and then we can help," he said.

    Mercedes-Benz has already pledged to supply a second team, Force India, in 2009.

    During a conference call for German reporters, Haug said supplying multiple teams is now possible because of the new rules further restricting engine usage.

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